Here’s the latest, most straightforward account of what George RR Martin truly has in mind for the Game of Thrones empire he’s built: five potential spin-offs–all of them prequals–and, in a reassuring note, a promise to complete book six of the original, lengthy saga.
There never was much doubt in my mind that Martin will complete the books. A contract is a contract is a contract. His publishers need their cut of his sales as much as Martin needs his: the money invested from those sales eventually pays every one of the persons involved with the production of the book. Thus, the parties involved have to take the work seriously, and they do.
As for the TV spin-offs, I am less enthusiastic. Sequels and prequels do not interest me unless I can see a commitment to doing something worthy based on the original material. In the present day, for instance, I am a little worried about the sequel to Deadpool. It probably won’t be on a par with the action and the wit of the first movie. Yet, I remind myself that The Godfather II and Aliens were both superb sequels. The question is as it always is, “what material is there to be mined from the original story?” If the characters can grow and develop logically and believably from one show to the next, why not go ahead? In the case of a prequel, the question is, “how do the characters become the people we’ve already met?” And there’s an allied question that’s just as important: “How did the world we know come to be the way it is?” It’s the job of a prequel to answer these two questions in as entertaining a way as possible. The Alien prequels–Prometheus and Alien: Covenant–have missed their opportunities to do compelling work within the backstory established by the first two films; and Star Trek: Enterprise–meant specifically to be a prequal to the Star Trek universe so familiar to us all–missed a golden opportunity to fill in the gaps of Trek history by uselessly gallivanting around the galaxy for two seasons, rather than building up carefully stories from that past: the Eugenics Wars, the Earth-Romulan conflict, and so on. Manny Coto did his best to highlight some of this history in season four but, by then, it was too little, too late. Let us hope Martin & Co. will plan their work more carefully, and will not sacrifice the world they’ve built for the hope of making a buck.
Martin knows that it isn’t likely that all five spin-offs will be accepted. It’s doubtful that we need to see even one of them. But I’m as big a fan of putting people to work as the next guy, and if the producers can create a worthwhile show, I’ll watch it–at least until the show itself convinces me not to.